Overweight, obesity and hypertension can be prevented through improvements in lifestyle including nutrition and physical activity. General practitioners (GPs) in Australia have access to over 90% of the population in the course of a year and therefore, the general practice setting may be ideal to assist patients with lifestyle change for weight management and hypertension. The present study aimed to determine the proportion of overweight/obese patients that recalled receiving advice by their GP to make lifestyle changes for weight loss. Recall of advice received by hypertensive patients to reduce salt intake was also measured.
A face to face survey was conducted on a representative sample (urban, suburban and rural) of South Australian residents. Respondents provided information on height and weight (self-report), whether they had received lifestyle advice from their GP for weight loss, and for those with self reported hypertension if they had received advice to reduce dietary salt.
The sample included 2947 South Australian adult residents (58% female; BMI (mean (SD)), 26.6 (5.3) kg/m2; age, 50.7 (18.0) years). Ninety-six percent had visited their GP in the past 12 months. Forty-one percent of males and 25% of females were overweight and 19% of males and 20% of females were obese. Twenty-seven percent of overweight/obese respondents reported receiving lifestyle advice for weight loss purposes. Of the 33% who reported they had hypertension, 34% reported receiving advice to reduce salt intake.
Less than 1/3 of overweight/obese patients reported that they had received lifestyle advice that could assist with weight loss from their GP. About a third of respondents with hypertension reported that they received advice to reduce salt intake. There are potentially missed opportunities in which GPs could provide re-enforcement of benefits of lifestyle changes with respect to weight and blood pressure control.